A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music
Founded in 1965 and still active today, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) is an American institution with an international reputation. George E. Lewis, who joined the collective as a teenager in 1971, establishes the full importance and vitality of the AACM with this communal history, written with a symphonic sweep that draws on a cross-generational chorus of voices and a rich collection of rare images.
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As much as I enjoyed the accounting of an organization with which I was an active particpant, I was somewhat disappointed that the author, failed to reach out to more of us regarding certain circumstances and situations that occurred in order to make it more authentic rather than the heresay, or the impression of those who were around. I was very much a part of the growth of the AACM from the 70's through the 80's when it made a major transition and transformed itself. In fact, I was a member of the first advisory board and the first meeting was held at my home at 6744 S. Chappel, Chicago, Illinois. I created the first press/media kit for the AACM which was designed by Floyd Webb. I still own a copy. I have hundreds of photo's from the AACM concerts and events by Nancy Carter, Floyd Webb and Teri Gardner.
How wonderful it is that George was able to write about this historic organization of which he is a member and to do so during a period in which many of the members are still living. And yet many of the more dynamic headliners as well as pioneers have gone on. My point is, if you have the opportunity to seek out and interview those who were there then do it. Don't skimp data for any reason. It's always better to have too much information than too little. Too much gives life to a second volume where as too little leaves a void in the story being told. The AACM is/was a richly textured organization made up of a certain manner of musician/artist. Each brought a unique contribution to the organization under one philosophy which was interpreted by many and often up for discussion, dialog and debate. This is what gave life to the organization: the organic aspect of it. And I'd dare say is why it continues to exist.
It was a huge undertaking and I am glad that George Lewis took it on because now it's done by one who was inside the AACM where as all other attempts have been from the "outsider" looking in who thought he was an "insider". So now that it's been done, there is still a need for yet another perspective to be presented. So thank you George for your documentation of the AACM.
Kai EL Zabar
1 FOUNDATIONS AND PREHISTORY
2 NEW MUSIC NEW YORK
3 THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE EXPERIMENTAL BAND
4 FOUNDING THE COLLECTIVE
5 FIRST FRUITS
6 THE AACM TAKES OFF
7 AMERICANS IN PARIS
8 THE AACMS NEXT WAVE
9 THE AACM IN NEW YORK
10 THE NEW REGIME IN CHICAGO